Nichiren Buddhist Association of America

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I Believe

Written January 2, 2005

 

My Mother:

Believes that God is in Heaven, meaning an old man sitting on a throne of judgment somewhere in space.
Believes that God decides the fate of Man, meaning Man cannot determine the "will of God" nor change it.
Believes that nothing in this world in which we live could ever be sacred, that it will always be profane, meaning only Heaven is sacred.
Believes that by calling to the mythical God outside of herself she can somehow bring her life into God's favor and wind up in Heaven with Him.
Believes that God punishes as well as forgives and is a parent to all mankind, meaning He has final authority to decide who will suffer eternally in Hell and who will reside with Him in Heaven. She is afraid of Him.
Believes that the Bible is the word of God, period, meaning that even though contradictory and written by men "inspired by God" there could and will never be other Words of God created in any other time period, such as our own.
Believes that she could never write or speak on behalf of God, no matter how close she becomes to Him.
Believes that faith like a child, blind faith, is what God wants her to have; never questioning, never doubting what others years ago have said about God, never thinking or reasoning for herself about faith and religion.


My Mother:

Is confused as to where God actually exists, meaning at times she believes Him to reside in Heaven (where she prays to Him) and at other times, when asked pointblank, she believes He is in her own life.
Is confused as to the nature of God and what that means, and believes it is wrong to even try to understand God in her own life, much less understand God in Heaven.


My Mother:

Does not believe that anyone has the power and influence to change the destiny of the world, and thinks Mankind to be evil and corrupt and contemptible and totally incapable of living their lives powerfully and positively and happily.
Does not believe in cause and effect and the silly notion that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but rather believes in a Creator or God in Heaven who originally made the world and the entire universe.
Does not have the courage to even try to stand up to the flood of worldwide opinion in order to find Truth in her own life, even though her idol, Jesus, did. (yes, idol)
Does not believe that mankind causes its own destiny and therefore can change that destiny through tapping the Power that is eternally inherent in life...simply does not believe that that Power exists.


My Mother:

Finds chanting and practicing Buddhism to be an "abhorrent" concept and one which she will never, ever, embrace or try.
Thinks she will be reunited with lost loved ones when she dies if she clings to her belief in God in Heaven and denies God in Herself.
Thinks her son is misguided and wrong about religion, and prays for God in Heaven to help him and change him to believe as she believes.


Dear Mother,

Your letter in response to my asking you to practice Buddhism truly saddens me. Stubbornness can be a good thing, but not when it comes to blind faith. What do I mean by "blind faith"? I mean a faith that refuses to comply with reason and knowledge; a faith that just insists that one should have faith like a child, always asking for help from outside, from God in Heaven; a faith that refuses, solely on the basis of fear, to take responsibility for their own destiny.

Here are some of the things that your son believes:

I believe:
That belief and trust in God in Heaven is a myth, a childish and irresponsible concept that it is harmful to humanity and to each individual who embraces the concept.
That life, the life that we have within ourselves is in no way different or separate from life anywhere else...that it is all Life...and that what we know to be true about Life should never be contradicted by religious beliefs or dogma.
That by chanting, refuting the mistaken religious views of others, and developing a true compassion for other's potential and enlightenment, I will continue to strengthen my life condition and positively affect the lives of others all over the world.
In becoming a Buddha and leading all others to do the same.
That I and anyone can become a Buddha, can attain enlightenment, a condition of Life equal to or surpassing that of Jesus, Shakyamuni Buddha, Allah, Nichiren Buddha, or any other life in the universe or beyond.
That my life is of monumental importance to the destiny of the world and that I, my wife, and a few others are the only ones at this time who have the courage and care enough to change that destiny.
That only through confronting wrong views of life and God and religion can those wrong views ever be changed.
That to truly care about another person often entails risking the friendship and approval of that person by telling them how you see and understand them and their beliefs from your own interactions with them.
That caring for another person means strict love at times, a love that isn't afraid to tell that person when they're wrong.
That if I didn't point out your serious error of religious belief, it would mean that I truly didn't care...(but I do, so I am).
That even the hardened heart of my own mother ...a heart hardened by fear and religious brainwashing...can be softened and opened to the true potentials within her life.
That my mother can become a Buddha in this lifetime.

I'm not sure what lies you think I embrace. However, I can assure you that the power of Buddhism to show each person their potential as human beings is very, very real. No one, and I mean no one really believes it before they see it in themselves, for themselves. People try it either to disprove it or just because they really like the philosophy and have nothing to lose by trying chanting. When people do chant, though, it changes them in a way that is undeniable -- undeniably good. And even though this is the most difficult religion to believe in and embrace (the fact that you have ultimate power over your own destiny), the people who try it can not ever deny that it works -- that chanting affects them and changes them for the better. I mean, the experience is so powerful that it would be like trying to deny that fire creates heat when you're standing right next to a blazing, 7-foot-high bonfire. That is NOT a lie. If you could but try this for a few months, you too would see that this is surely no lie. No other religion I know of has such power. I didn't always think Buddhism was true. I argued with the guy who converted me for three years before I'd try it. But once I did, I never went back. And that's why I practice Buddhism. It's not a choice between this or Christianity. It's not like I rejected the Bible and then said, "I guess I have to be a Buddhist now." There are thousands, if not millions, of religions out there. And if I didn't like any of them, I could make up my own. I choose this one because it's real and because it gives real, concrete hope for the destiny of humanity. I choose it because it affects me psychologically, emotionally, and physically, and makes me a better person. And it works in that same way on every single other person who tries it. It is a universal truth...it works for everyone who has the courage to try it. What you speak of in your religion is a matter of a mythical fantasy versus a natural phenomenon, a very natural, very real part of life. How could I convince you to choose something real over a fantasy? I don't know. You can put your faith in something that makes you feel safe and comforted, or you can grow up and take responsibility for your own life. Once you raise your life condition through chanting, you will realize that your fantasy religion had you trapped before, but that now you are free to control your own destiny. It's wonderful -- truly wonderful, and truly liberating.

Mother, I know you will continue to dismiss this letter as you have done repeatedly to my words in the past. But know that I can't help but continue to try to speak to your heart. You have potentials that you cannot see, yet I see them clearly. Your life has a worth that can be revealed as a beacon of hope for all others. You say you will never do as I ask and practice Buddhism. Know that I will never quit trying to encourage you to become a Buddha...never...not in any lifetime.


FEEL THE EARTH TREMBLE


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